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(Updated 19/8/01)

PETA gets its hooks into angling

A DISTURBING image of a dog with an oversized fishing hook through its muzzle features as the focal centrepiece of a multi-million pound campaign to get angling banned in Britain.#


The image is designed to shock the sensibilities of animal lovers into thinking that the nation’s most popular sport is cruel, and appears on posters bearing the question: “If you wouldn’t do this to a dog, why do it to a fish?”

The image and the campaign were dreamed up by the animal-rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or Peta.

The image has already been used to devastating effect in America, where the group’s £13 million campaign budget has ensured that it is seen everywhere. The campaign is backed by Hollywood stars including Pamela Anderson and Kim Basinger.

Dawn Carr, an American spokesman for the group defended the Peta campaign’s shock tactics saying: “This advert has been very successful in drawing attention to the suffering of fish in America.

“Whereas fish may not be as cute and cuddly as dogs, it doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing pain too.

“While fishing may be a sport to some people, it doesn’t change the fact that there is a terrified animal at the end of the line.”

Miss Carr added that Peta wanted to make angling as widely debated an issue as foxhunting. “We have followed the anti-foxhunting campaign in Britain with interest and now want to see the cruelty of angling on the national agenda.”

Denounced

The Peta campaign was denounced by Charles Jardine, angling director of the Countryside Alliance. “This advert is outrageous,” he declared. “I think any sane-minded person would find it ridiculous.

“To hook a dog would be unlawful for a start and there is no proof that fish actually experience pain.

“I think this is simply alarmist and I don’t think any sane-minded person would give any credence to this advert from an American group.”

These views were echoed by a spokesman for the National Federation of Anglers who said: “Fishing has done a lot for the environment and many of our rivers and I think that fisherman are the watchdogs of our waterways.”

Even the RSPCA, criticised for its uncompromising stance and its own shock adverts against hunting has distanced itself from the Peta campaign. Spokeswoman Lisa Dewhurst points out that the charity is an animal welfare organisation, not an animal rights organisation.

Referring to angling and foxhunting, Ms Dewhurst said: “They are two completely different things. Hunting with dogs is hunting with dogs. The dogs are the ones that chase and catch the prey. No matter what regulations you bring in, you can’t force a pack of hounds to follow a human code of conduct. With fishing, the angler himself is carrying out the practice, and is perfectly capable of carrying that out in a reasonable way.”

Peta have long been known as a particular sub-group of activists, the non-violent purists. The organisation believes that everyone should follow a vegan lifestyle and as well as avoiding eating meat or fish, we should not exploit animals in any way and not use anything which is produced from animals, including leather, milk and eggs. It also believes that human beings should not breed or keep domestic pets and is totally opposed to activities such as dog and cat showing. They also believe that all “captive fish” in aquariums should be liberated.